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September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
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What It Means To Be Chosen


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If all Judaism becomes is service to the world, it becomes a question of “If I am not for myself, who will be?”

Who else will care?

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At the American Jewish Historical Society, there was an excellent program about Jewish women in the Civil War. The audience learned about such colorful women as Phoebe Yates Pember who served as a nurse, with 15,000 patients coming under her direct care during the war and Clara Solomon, a teenager who chronicled the Civil War.

The importance of death customs has been ingrained in me since birth. When I served as a shomeret for my grandmother, I was instructed not to eat, drink or perform a mitzvah in the same room. In the shock of death, it seemed rather inane to be told it would be considered mocking the dead. My grandmother was gone; she couldn’t do those things because she didn’t exist anymore, a fact that still makes me tear up.

At the end of 2012, I was in Israel and looking out at the Jerusalem night sky. I was filled to the brim with inspiration and decided to challenge myself to become a more educated young woman. Simply put, I was going to read as many books in a year as possible. I’m not sure if that would actually have made a difference in my level of education but it seemed like a fun goal at the time.

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We are forgetting the lessons of the churban Beit HaMikdash, how we were not finished off by Rome, but destroyed ourselves through mindless hatred and zealotry. We bled each other dry through violence and bigotry until we were weak enough for Rome to come in and step all over our broken bodies. Rome did not defeat us – we defeated ourselves.

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